Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Defense Information Systems Agency
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of awardee’s technical risk is denied where the record shows that the agency performed a reasonable evaluation of risk in accordance with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
- Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of awardee’s cost/price is dismissed to the extent that the protester untimely challenged the solicitation’s price evaluation scheme after the time for receipt of proposals; the evaluation of price was otherwise reasonable and consistent with the evaluation scheme.
- Agency’s investigation of the awardee’s alleged unequal access to information organizational conflict of interest related to the awardee’s hiring of a government employee was reasonable, where the agency determined that the employee did not have access to non-public, source selection information, and where the record shows the employee did not assist the awardee in writing its proposal.
General Counsel PC:
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) protested the award to Lockheed Martin Corporation Information Systems & Global Solutions (Lockheed) of a contract for the provision of services in support of the global information grid (GIG) services management-operations (GSM-O) effort. The RFP contemplated the award of a single ID/IQ contract on a best value basis considering technical/management, past performance, and cost and price evaluation factors. The agency conducted several rounds of discussions with SAIC and Lockheed, including providing numerous written ENs, and then accepted revised proposals from the offerors. In evaluating proposals, the SSA concluded that, notwithstanding similar assigned ratings for each of the technical/management subfactors, Lockheed had the superior technical proposal with more strengths, and those strengths were of greater benefit to the government.
SAIC first challenged the agency’s analysis of Lockheed’s technical risk, asserting that the evaluation was cursory in that it did not account for the risk inherent in Lockheed’s proposed solution, which depended on substantially reduced labor hours and introduced innovative but untried solutions. The GAO found the agency’s assignment of low risk reasonable, given the detailed responses Lockheed gave to each of the ENs addressing the agency’s concerns with Lockheed’s proposal. The GAO pointed out that, after reviewing the SSET’s and SSAC’s analysis and recommendations, the SSA conducted her own analysis of Lockheed’s proposal under the technical/management subfactors and independently assessed it as outstanding/low risk.
SAIC also alleged that the agency failed to consider that Lockheed’s lower price for task orders 01 and 02 was illusory, arguing that the SSA’s conclusion that Lockheed’s proposal contained a 17% price advantage was unreasonable because it failed to account for the non-binding nature of the option year prices for the two task orders. The GAO, however, agreed found reasonable the agency’s reliance on the RFP provision which bound offerors to their pricing for 12 months, pointing out that the agency intended to issue both task orders within the first 12 months. The GAO found that the agency had conducted a thorough analysis of Lockheed’s pricing and requested at least 20 responses to ENs before determining that its pricing was realistic.
Finally, SAIC asserted that the agency failed to meaningfully investigate an unequal access to information OCI arising out of Lockheed’s employment of a former agency employee. The GAO found no basis to object to the adequacy of the agency’s inquiry into whether Lockheed had an OCI or its conclusion that no unequal access to information OCI existed. The agency had requested information from Lockheed about the former agency employee’s current employment status and an OCI mitigation plan. The GAO found reasonable the agency’s conclusion that the former agency employee did not have access to, nor provide any input to, Lockheed’s or its subcontractor’s proposal teams.
Where a company hires former agency employees, it must ensure that it prevents the appearance of any OCI in pursuing contracting opportunities with the agency which formerly employed that individual. Separating the individual from the proposal preparation team, as well as maintaining an updated OCI mitigation plan, will help satisfy any agency concerns that an OCI may exist. All government contractors should educate their employees on how OCIs can arise, how to prevent them, and what to do if an employee believes he or she has been exposed to information which could cause an OCI on a future contracting opportunity.